Alcohol and cannabis together? The effects on the body

Effects on the body of alcohol and cannabis together

Insight into the consequences of taking marijuana and alcohol

It is not uncommon for young people and adults to consume alcohol and marijuana simultaneously.

In this article, we try to understand the effects on the body and what risks are involved.

Mixing alcohol and cannabis, better known as cross-fading 

Cross-fading is a term used to refer to a mix of several substances, specifically alcohol and marijuana with THC (other than legal cannabis). While it seems to be a mystical experience for some, many people experience less than desirable effects.

As a rule, if a person uses it occasionally, in states where the law permits it, he or she should not experience any significant problems or side effects. However, one should be cautious and assess all the variables:

  • The degree of tolerance to alcohol and cannabis
  • The type of alcoholic beverage being consumed
  • The use of other substances such as caffeine or tobacco
  • Medication intake

Another critical point to note is the order in which you take cannabis and alcohol.

Girl drinking alcohol

Drinking before smoking cannabis

Although not all studies agree 100%, there is evidence that drinking before smoking leads to a substantial increase in THC, making the herb much stronger. The effects can vary depending on the individual, of course.

Here are the most common symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks

In these cases, you should sit in a quiet place, relax, stay hydrated, eat something to raise your blood sugar and call someone for help.

Read also: Scientific studies on cannabis: here are the most curious ones

Smoking cannabis before drinking

In this second case, the most widely accepted theory is that cannabis (we are always talking about marijuana with THC and not legal marijuana) tends to reduce the effects of alcohol, minimising them.

The risk is that you don’t realise how much you have drunk, leading you to drink more; in the worst cases, you risk alcohol poisoning.

Consuming alcohol and cannabis simultaneously may also increase dependence on both, making it increasingly difficult to stop.

Studies suggest that prolonged use of both can reduce cognitive function and even alter brain structure, particularly the hippocampus.

Several psychosocial factors have also been shown to be associated with the simultaneous use of these substances, such as

  • depression
  • behavioural disorders
  • positive perceptions of drug use
  • relational problems
  • increased intention to use drugs
  • etc.

Alcohol, marijuana, and the green out effect

Alcohol and cannabis also negatively impact the nervous system, memory, motor system, and time perception.

Another undesirable effect is known as greening out, which refers to the feeling of malaise one gets after smoking marijuana, accentuated by alcohol consumption leading to an increase in THC.

Typically, when a person goes through this phase, they experience paleness, sweating, nausea, dizziness and, in some cases, vomiting and hallucinations.

Effects of mixing alcohol and cannabis

Alcohol and marijuana can inhibit the ability to vomit

Cannabis can inhibit the ability to vomit, and when you drink a lot, vomiting is a clear sign that you have too much alcohol in your body and that your body is trying to expel it for protection.

When cannabis and alcohol are mixed, however, this body’s ability is lost, leading to an increased risk of alcohol poisoning or even blackouts due to high blood alcohol levels.

Mixing pot and alcohol increase the risk of road accidents

According to a study conducted by the US Department of Transportation, it appears that the risk of traffic accidents is significantly higher when drivers have consumed both marijuana and alcohol together.

It is because both substances impair our judgement, slow down our reflexes and encourage us to take more risks than average without overthinking the consequences.

Therefore, the cross-fade effect puts our existence at risk and those around us, as alcohol and cannabis give us the feeling of being invincible and immortal.

What can you do to mitigate the risks of cross-fade? 

  • Stay hydrated 
    Alcohol has a diuretic effect and therefore increases dehydration in the body.
  • Don’t drink more than you should
    Smoking cannabis before drinking slows down the alcohol’s process and the feeling of drunkenness, making you think you can keep going.
  • Seek medical help
    Don’t wait for the side effects to get worse. Instead, get help from someone who can help you, especially if you find yourself in a green out situation, which can have prolonged effects for up to several hours.
  • Eating something
    Having some sugar in your blood can help you feel less sick.
  • Please don’t overdo it
    Although some states allow cannabis for recreational purposes, too much is too much. You can never overdo it when it comes to alcohol and cannabis, let alone when you decide to mix the two.

Read also: Cannabis and the menstrual cycle: the effect on cramps and pain

In conclusion

As we have seen, the combination of alcohol and marijuana can trigger hazardous reactions in the body, which should be avoided.

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